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Old 03-09-2011, 07:44 AM
andychrome andychrome is offline
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Default Kodachrome 64 scanning and color cast - using a Nikon coolscan

Hi. Just thought I would share some of my scanning experiences. Feel free to offer any suggestions - I am just starting to learn all about scanning. I have a Nikon Coolscan 5000 and have recently been scanning some Kodachrome 64 slides that are only a few years old.

First of all I use Nikon Scan with just the standard Kodachrome setting and ICE turned off. I have been thinking about Silverfast and the IT8 calibration but more on that later.

I took some images on a trip to Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. The ones I have shown aren't great photographic images. I was expecting some blue cast issues as others have pointed out. It is interesting that one roll I took in Bryce Canyon came out pretty good - a little flat but not too bad. I then adjusted white/black points in photoshop and got a slight improvement - I havent shown this adjusted image.

But then I scanned some images from the Grand Canyon - wow - I take it this is the blue/magenta cast that others have mentioned. The film was just the consumer grade 64 - I seem to remember that it was within the exp date but I am not sure how it was stored before I bought it from the store. Maybe it had aged too much. I also set a white and black point in software and it improved it a bit but still doesnt quite look as I remember. It was a different time of day to the Bryce shots.

Images below
- Bryce base image
- Grand Canyon base image
- Grand Canyon with white and black points set

So I guess there are two problems: getting a good Kodachrome scan with the right software to assist color balance, but also some lots of slides may have a more noticeable cast than others due to the condition of the film at the time? I seem to notice the Color cast more on Kodachrome 64 than on some older Kodachrome 25 that I have scanned.

The Nikon scanner and Nikon Scan software definetely does a great job with E6 film but maybe with Kodachrome I might have to look at Silverfast. Anyone tried the IT8 calibration and found it made a big difference?

Thanks
Andy
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Bryce01.jpg (197.2 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg GC02.jpg (95.5 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg GC02_adjustwhitepnt.jpg (113.9 KB, 15 views)
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:18 AM
kevinkar kevinkar is offline
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I've noted before that I get different results from NikonScan, SilverFast, and VueScan Pro, calibrated or not. For most images, calibrated SilverFast is fine with a minimum amount of tweaking. Some slides look better when not using calibration or using one of the other software. It's maddening to have to scan in all three, calibrated or not, to see which output is best.

So, what I've decided to do is to get through all my images using calibrated SilverFast so I can at least finish the job (have a couple thousand negatives and slides....) then go through them noting the problem results and rescanning as necessary.

There's no rhyme or reason why one software would have trouble with an image and another wouldn't. I guess the algorithms are just different enough to make a difference in the output.

Since SilverFast is expensive, you definitely need to get the demo version (unfortunately you can't calibrate it unless you buy it) and test it out to see how the non-calibrated results look. Also pay attention to the GUI and how easy/difficult it is for you to use. It's a bit daunting and the more automatic settings can be great or not so great depending on the image.

VueScan also comes in a free version so you can easily test that out. While comparing the results from all three software in a non-calibrated way is not your ultimate goal, you can at least see how the output between the three differ and provide you a reasonable indication of how they perform.

All that being said, calibration helps but is not necessarily the be all end all of scanning because each image is different and sometimes non-calibrated results are perfectly acceptable (if the colors are right, they are right.) Calibration is an extra cost (to already expensive software in the case of SilverFast) so you should only get it if you absolutely need it. Sometimes the "Color Cast Removal" tool works wonders.
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Old 03-11-2011, 08:37 AM
andychrome andychrome is offline
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Hi Kevin

Thanks for your reply. I have gone back and read some of your previous posts - thanks for all your input into the scanning side of things on the forums. I have really appreciated all the info.

I tried a demo version of Silverfast (which as you say does not allow the IT8 calibration). It takes a bit to get used to and I tried a number of settings to try and get the best scan. I used the generic Kodachrome profile in Silverfast and tried the Color Cast removal tool - it improved the result a bit. But for this particular Grand canyon image I think I almost got a better result with the Nikonscan software and then setting white and black points in photoshop.

I have posted the results below:
- Base image scanned with Nikon scan software
- Scanned with Silverfast - color cast removal using software. Helps a bit.

In some cases Silverfast seems a bit better than Nikon Scan but in other cases I couldn't get it to beat Nikon Scan - the images also seemed a bit darker with Silverfast even if I increased the brightness. Perhaps that is my fault with one of the settings not set correctly. I also tried an E-6 E100VS slide which scans very well on the Nikon using NikonScan software but found that Silverfast produced a darker image that i didnt prefer. So as you say - it can be difficult finding the one software package that does each film type and even each image to the best ability. The NikonScan software does a fantastic job with E-6 film - in my opinion.

So now I will have to think whether I should get Silverfast and the IT8 calibration. I am definetely considering it.

Can anyone with Silverfast post any K64 images with and without the IT8 calibration to show the sorts of improvements that you got? Thanks - that would be great.

I often wonder how much variability there would be between different, for example, Nikon LS-5000s that each scanner needs to be calibrated separately. Wouldn't software set up for a particular scanner model (eg Nikon LS-5000) be able to have a Kodachrome mode that, in effect, was close to a calibrated IT8 performance for that particular scanner type with just some slight variability according to the scanner production for each unit. I don't know.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg GC02_LS5000_NikonScan.jpg (95.5 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg GC02_LS5000_Silverfast.jpg (108.6 KB, 8 views)
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Old 03-11-2011, 04:29 PM
kevinkar kevinkar is offline
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Andy,

My gut feeling is that the production runs of the scanners is probably within a reasonable margin such that most scanners will calibrate the same or close to it but there are so many electronic variables that can change the numbers, ever so slightly, that you'll see a difference be it capacitors, resistors, voltages, CCD manufacturing variability, humidity, etc.

I've used SilverFast IT-8 calibration targets in for both Ektachrome and Kodachrome and the numerical differences between calibrated and uncalibrated are definitely there. I have not compared the variance between the two film types to see if they are similar but the targets are sufficiently different such that I don't think I can really infer a correlation between them. All I know is that some calibrated results are better yet some default non-calibrated results are better both both types of film and, as you confirm, NikonScan can produce superior results sometimes! It's almost as maddening as trying to determine the resolution between scanned image, screen display, printing resolution, and image size!

I can't see your second set of images yet (still pending approval as I type this) but your first ones posted definitely show the blue cast. Unfortunately, there are no real white/gray areas in them to select for good white balance. I find that I, more often than not, have to pick a gray area and not a white area to get the right white balance and resulting output. In Bryce and Grand Canyons, there's not a lot of white/gray!

Now that I look at your images, I think there's another setting to check in SilverFast. I know I've had several old slides that took some time to fix and it's not sufficient to just select the Color Cast Removal setting. There's another one I used and I'll have to look for it and let you know. It's not obvious.

More later....

Oh, and even if you do buy SF with IT-8, you won't go wrong. It's just an expensive way to go and requires some tenacity to get right. They say the auto settings are really good but I find that's not usually the case. I always have to tweak which takes time and I'm not sure I'll live that long....

K
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Old 03-12-2011, 08:23 AM
andychrome andychrome is offline
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Kevin,

Thanks for the reply. Yes this whole scanning business is alot more complicated than i first thought. Thanks for the tip about another option that needs to be selected in Silverfast. Let me know when you find that.

I totally agree that finding a gray point seems to give better results in terms of finding the 'right' white balance than setting the white and black points. Sometimes thats all you can find though.

I have used the original NikonScan file with the highly noticeable blue cast and finally after playing around in Lightroom and setting white balance, exp, fill light etc was able to get something that I think looks pretty good. I have attached both of these to this post. Let me know what you think. I also had the same slide scanned on an imacon - let me know if you want me to show the comparison.

Its kind of funny that we all like Kodachrome for its look and it is meant to have more true representation of colors than E6, but after going through all the variables with scanning a koda slide its hard to know what the digital file really should look like at the end! I saw someone on a thread somewhere mentioning that Kodachrome was probably designed to be projected with the temp light that a projector lamp has. Maybe thats why it scans a fair bit 'cooler' than some other films. It certainly wasnt designed for scanning. The archive quality of Koda is not in question and I really like their look when projected.
I certainly have had far less issues scanning E100GX and other Kodak E-6 films but I wouldnt give up that Kodachrome look. I suppose its worth all the time in scanning. I think that the roll of K64 I took at the Grand Canyon must have been aged because it is alot worse for blue/magenta cast than some other rolls. I have also been scanning some Kodachrome 200 and I think that has slightly less issue with color cast but thats for another post.

Thanks
Attached Images
File Type: jpg GC02_LS5000_NikonScan.jpg (95.5 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg GC02_LS5000_NikonScan_AdjustLightroom_best.jpg (121.1 KB, 13 views)
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Old 03-14-2011, 03:15 PM
kevinkar kevinkar is offline
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Andy,

Your second one there looks awfully good. I think that's the best of what you've got so far. Very little if any extra blue cast and the canyon colors look pretty vibrant. However, you've had to do significant work on it and, if you have 3.000 slides to scan, it will take forever.

On to your other thought about projecting being the target for slides, I have an old Argus PreViewer slide viewer and the thing has just a crappy little incandescent battery driven bulb but, when I look at slides in that thing, THEY LOOK GREAT! My scans are NEVER as good as they look in the viewer which somehow produces very vibrant colors for which Kodachrome is known. I wish I could figure out the "temperature" of the bulb and somehow apply that to the scans.

The "other setting" to which I was referring is the Adaptive Color Restoration function (part of the Selective Color Correction button) which is supposed to modify colors to what they are supposed to be or to "normalize oversaturated colors" according to the documentation. I've been using that along with color cast removal to modify the blue cast out of the image. I really don't think that's the way it's supposed to be used but my use of it has helped significantly remove/modify the wrong colors.

I have to be careful and not modify other colors that I want to keep but I've been able to increase the saturation of good colors and desaturate the blue cast such that the results are better than with the Color Cast Removal alone. Try it and see if you can get comfortable with it.

Kevin
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Old 03-15-2011, 06:13 AM
andychrome andychrome is offline
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Kevin,

Thanks for the feedback. As you point out - it has taken a fair bit of work to get the image as good as that. I wouldnt want to do that all the time. I guess my question (to all the kodachrome scanners out there) is would having Silverfast with the IT8 calibration significantly improve the process? That is the 400 Euro decision! In my opinion Silverfast demo (without IT8) did not improve the process much at all - it just gave a slight variation on the original image with some of the color cast removed but which still required a fair bit of photoshop/lightroom work to get the image from Silverfast up to a good enough level. In which case there is no major advantage over Nikon Scan for my particular usage.

If the IT8 calibration would get the images up to a big improvement such that they dont need much subsequent work that would be fantastic. At the moment I am not convinced of that. Also if the Kodachrome slides were taken using aged film, hence causing an even more pronounced cast, then I am guessing they would still need alot of post processing even with the IT8 calibration.

It would be great if someone out there who has a Nikon Coolscan and also Nikon Scan and Silverfast with IT8, could scan the same slide with each software and post the results so that we could all the sorts of improvements that having the IT8 calibration brings.

Thanks for the tip about the Adaptive Color Restoration. That sounds like ROC (or Restore Old Colors) from Nikon Scan. Which as you noted is not technically meant to remove color casts. I sometimes use this. I have noticed the same thing as you that sometimes this function can really make a big improvement - in other cases it makes the image look plain wrong.

Totally agree that looking at Kodachromes in a viewer or a projector is the best way. But alas scanning is the required thing at this point for printing and it is proving to be difficult.

As another aside I have noticed that one really handy function in Nikon Scan which helps scanning Kodachrome slides is
"ANALOG GAIN"
Depending on the image I increase this by 0.4 or up to 0.8. I take it this actually changes the exposure of the scan itself and seems to increase the overall brightness. That really helps Kodachrome. It does a much better job than actually increasing the brightness slider or increasing the shadows using DEE. I originally found its benefit when scanning black and white film - with it set at the default 0.0 alot were coming out dark and looking underexposed even though the original slides were perfect. But given that Kodachrome has a black and white base film it makes sense that it also helps with scanning kodas. When scanning E-6 film I rarely need to use it. I take it that the coolscan is primarily designed/setup for E-6 film.

Anyway thanks again for your input.
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Old 03-18-2011, 02:44 AM
John MacLean Photography John MacLean Photography is offline
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I just got the current upgrade of SilverFast Ai 6.6 ME and their $50 Kodachrome IT8 target. It is way better than my previous version of SF with the Kodak branded IT8 I had before. Much truer color and only slight adjustments in Lightroom 3 are required. Now if I could just get rid of that Coolscan 5000 highlight flaring!
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Old 03-18-2011, 05:08 AM
andychrome andychrome is offline
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Hi John

Thanks so much for the post. That's great news that you are getting much better results with the new Silverfast version and the IT8 target. Sounds promising.

If you have time it would be great if you could post a couple of images on this forum that show how it has improved your scanning. I am especially interested in daylight landscapes/national parks type photography. That would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks very much.
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:51 AM
kevinkar kevinkar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John MacLean Photography View Post
I just got the current upgrade of SilverFast Ai 6.6 ME and their $50 Kodachrome IT8 target. It is way better than my previous version of SF with the Kodak branded IT8 I had before. Much truer color and only slight adjustments in Lightroom 3 are required. Now if I could just get rid of that Coolscan 5000 highlight flaring!
Can you elaborate on which previous version you were using (earlier 6.x or perhaps 4.x or 5.x?) and if you used the old IT-8 target with the new SF version to compare against the new target? I'd like to know how the older IT-8 target "aged".

I keep reading that you need to replace the IT-8 target every so often (every couple of years maybe) because its colors change over time but, when I recalibrate now and then and compare the numbers to the previous calibrations, they are always the same which indicates either my scanner and target are aging at the same rate or the target (always stored in the dark and used maybe 3 times a year) actually is not degrading over time.

My two IT-8 targets are both LaserSoft targets, not Kodak.
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